Part 2 (N)

Recovery, Spacecraft Redefinition, and First Manned Apollo Flight

August through September 1968

1968 August

1968 September


August 1

Howard W. Tindall, Jr., Deputy Division Chief, MSC Mission Planning and Analysis, wrote ASPO Manager George M. Low: "A rather unbelievable proposal has been bouncing around lately. Because it is seriously ascribed to a high ranking official, MSC and Grumman are both on the verge of initiating activities - feasibility studies, procedures development, etc. - in accord with it. . . . The matter to which I refer is the possibility of deleting the rendezvous radar from the LM. The first thing that comes to mind, although not perhaps the most important, is that the uproar from the astronaut office will be fantastic - and I'll join in with my small voice too. Without rendezvous radar there is absolutely no observational data going into the LM to support rendezvous maneuvers. . . . Please see if you can stop this if it's real and save both MSC and GAEC a lot of trouble." On August 9 Low wrote NASA Apollo Program Manager Samuel Phillips that, shortly after Associate Administrator for Manned Space George Mueller had visited Grumman, Low had calls from both C. H. Bolender, MSC, and Joseph Gavin, Grumman, indicating that Mueller had made a suggestion "that we should eliminate the LM rendezvous radar as a weight saving device." He forwarded Tindall's memorandum as the basis for "why we should not consider deleting the radar and why we shouldn't spend any more effort on this work." Low added that MSC was discontinuing "any work that we may have started as a result of George's comments." In a reply on August 28, Phillips told Low, "I am in complete agreement . . . that all work toward deleting the LM rendezvous radar should be discouraged and I have written to George Mueller to that effect."

Memo, Tindall to Manager, ASPO, "LM rendezvous radar is essential," Aug. 1, 1968; ltrs., Low to Phillips, Aug. 9, 1968, Phillips to Low, Aug. 28, 1968.

August 2

In an effort to stem the number of hardware changes at KSC, Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips instituted a weekly review of all changes that produced additional work at KSC in excess of normal checkout flow. Phillips stressed the extraordinary importance of change control and the requirement that only mandatory changes be approved through the control boards at MSC and MSFC. The volume of changes currently under way at KSC constituted a major concern. Key program objectives, he said, were in jeopardy.

TWXs, Phillips to distr., Aug. 2 and 19, 1968.

August 7

The Apollo Design Certification Review (DCR) Board convened at MSC to examine LM-3 further for proof of design and development maturity and to assess and certify the design of the LM-3 as flightworthy and safe for manned flight. This Delta review was identified as a requirement at the March 6 LM-3 DCR. The Board concluded at the close of the Delta DCR that LM-3 was safe to fly manned with the completion of open work and action items identified during the review.

Ltr., Apollo Program Director to distr., "LM-3 Delta Design Certification Review," Sept. 12, 1968.

August 8

ASPO Manager George M. Low and several members of his staff met at KSC with Center Director Kurt H. Debus, Launch Operations Director Rocco A. Petrone, and KSC Apollo Program Manager R. O. Middleton to discuss test and checkout problems for AS-503 and AS-504. They collectively agreed that only mandatory changes - i.e., changes for flight safety or to ensure mission success - could be made once the spacecraft reached KSC. (Changes that would speed the KSC checkout flow also were permitted.) Furthermore, two separate work packages would be prepared for each spacecraft customer acceptance readiness review board. The first package comprised normal work to be performed at KSC on all spacecraft. The second included special work normally done at the factory, but which for that specific vehicle was being transferred to the Cape (installation, retesting, etc.). The group also reviewed recent Apollo checkout experiences - especially test failures and open items - in an effort to improve these areas for subsequent missions.

Memo for record, Low, "Report of meeting at KSC," Aug. 10, 1968.

August 9 - November 12

ASPO Manager George M. Low initiated a series of actions that led to the eventual decision that AS-503 (Apollo 8) should be a lunar orbital mission. Events and the situation during June and July had indicated to Low that the only way for the "in this decade" goal to be attained was to launch the Saturn 503/CSM 103 LM-3 mission in 1968. During June and July the projected launch slipped from November to December, with no assurance of a December launch. Later, Low recalled "the possibility of a circumlunar or lunar orbit mission during 1968, using AS-503 and CSM 103 first occurred to me as a contingency mission."

During the period of July 20-August 5, pogo problems that had arisen on Apollo 6 seemed headed toward resolution; work on the CSM slowed, but progress was satisfactory; delivery was scheduled at KSC during the second week in August and the spacecraft was exceptionally clean. The LM still required a lot of work and chances were slim for a 1968 launch.

On August 7, Low asked MSC's Director of Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., to look into the feasibility of a lunar orbit mission for Apollo 8 without carrying the LM. A mission with the LM looked as if it might slip until February or March 1969. The following day Low traveled to KSC for an AS-503 review, and from the work schedule it looked like a January 1969 launch.

August 9 was probably one of the busiest days in George Low's life; the activities of that and the following days enabled the United States to meet the "in this decade" goal. At 8 :45 a.m. he met with MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth and told him he had been considering a lunar orbit mission. Gilruth was highly enthusiastic. At 9:00 a.m. Low met with Kraft and was informed that the mission was technically feasible from ground control and spacecraft computer standpoint. (A decision had been made several months earlier to put a Colossus onboard computer program on the 103 spacecraft.)

At 9:30 a.m. Low met with Gilruth, Kraft, and Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald K. Slayton, and they unanimously decided to seek support from MSFC Director Wernher von Braun and Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips. Gilruth called von Braun and, after briefly outlining the plan, asked if they could meet in Huntsville that afternoon. Low called Phillips, who was at KSC, and asked whether he and KSC Director Kurt Debus could participate and a meeting was set up for 2:30.

Present at the 2:30 p.m. meeting at MSFC were von Braun, Eberhard Rees, Lee James, and Ludie Richard, all of MSFC: Phillips and George Hage, both of OMSF; Debus and Rocco Petrone, MSFC; and Gilruth, Low, Kraft, and Slayton of MSC. Low outlined the hardware situation and told the group it was technically feasible to fly the lunar orbit mission in December 1968, with the qualification that Apollo 7 would have to be a very successful mission. If not successful, Apollo 8 would be another earth-orbital mission. Kraft made a strong point that to gain lunar landing benefits Apollo 8 would have to be a lunar orbital rather than a circumlunar mission. All were enthusiastic. Phillips began outlining necessary events: KSC said it would be ready to support such a launch by December 1; MSFC felt it would have no difficulties; MSC needed to look at the differences between spacecraft 103 and 106 (the first spacecraft scheduled to leave earth's atmosphere) and had to find a substitute for the LM. The meeting was concluded at 5:00 p.m. with an agreement to meet in Washington August 14. This would be decision day and, if "GO," Phillips planned to go to Vienna and discuss the plan with Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller and NASA Administrator James E. Webb (who were attending a United Nations Conference). Preliminary planning would be secret, but if and when adopted by the agency the plan would be made public immediately.

Still on August 9, in another meeting at MSC at 8:30 p.m., Low met with Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, George Abbey, and C. H. Bolender of MSC, and Dale Myers, North American Rockwell. Bolender left immediately for Bethpage, N.Y., to find a substitute for the LM; and Myers left for Downey, Calif., to get the CM going.

On the following day there were still no obvious insurmountable problems that might block the plan. Kleinknecht was studying the differences between spacecraft 103 and 106, where the high-gain antenna might be a problem. It seemed possible to use LM-2 to support the flight, but Joseph Kotanchik, MSC, suggested flying a simple crossbeam instead of a LM in the event the pogo oscillation problem remained and pointed out that even if pogo was solved the LM would not be needed. Low called Richard and Hage, who agreed with Kotanchik but still wanted mass representation to avoid possible dynamic problems. Low then called William Bergen, of North American, who was not too receptive to the plan.

On August 12 Kraft informed Low that December 20 was the day if they wanted to launch in daylight. With everyone agreeing to a daylight launch, the launch was planned for December 1 with a "built-in hold" until the 20th, which would have the effect of giving assurance of meeting the schedule. LTA (LM test article)-B was considered as a substitute; it had been through a dynamic test vehicle program, and all except Kotanchik agreed this would be a good substitute. Grumman suggested LTA-4 but Low decided on LTA-B.

Kleinknecht had concluded his CSM 103-106 configuration study by August 13 and determined the high-gain antenna was the most critical item. Kraft was still "GO" and said December 20-26 (except December 25) offered best launch times; he had also looked at January launch possibilities. Slayton had decided to assign the 104 crew to the mission. He had talked to crew commander Frank Borman and Borman was interested.

Participants in the August 14 meeting in Washington were Low, Gilruth, Kraft, and Slayton from MSC; von Braun, James, and Richard from MSFC; Debus and Petrone from KSC; and Deputy Administrator Thomas Paine, William Schneider, Julian Bowman, Phillips, and Hage from NASA Hq. Low reviewed the spacecraft aspects; Kraft, flight operations; and Slayton, flight crew support. MSFC had agreed on the LTA-B as the substitute and were still ready to go; and KSC said they would be ready by December 6.

While the meeting was in progress, Mueller called from Vienna to talk to Phillips. He was cool to the proposed idea, especially since it preceded Apollo 7, and urged Phillips not to come to Vienna, adding that he could not meet with the group before August 22. The group agreed they could not wait until August 22 for a decision and agreed to keep going, urging again that Phillips go to Vienna and present their case.

At this point Paine reminded them that not too long before they were making a decision whether to man 503, and now they were proposing a bold mission. He then asked for comments by those around the table and received the following responses:

von Braun - Once you decided to man 503 it did not matter how far you went.

Hage - There were a number of places in the mission where the decision could be made, minimizing the risk.

Slayton - Only chance to get to the moon before the end of 1969.

Debus - I have no technical reservations.

Petrone - I have no reservations.

Bowman - A shot in the arm for manned space flight.

James - Manned safety in this and following flights enhanced.

Richard - Our lunar capability will be enhanced by flying this mission.

Schneider - My wholehearted endorsement.

Gilruth - Although this may not be the only way to meet our goal, it enhances our possibility. There is always risk, but this is in path of less risk. In fact, the minimum risk of all Apollo plans.

Kraft - Flight operations has a difficult job here. We need all kind of priorities; it will not be easy to do, but I have confidence. It should be lunar orbit and not circumlunar.

Low - Assuming Apollo 7 is a success there is no other choice.

After receiving this response, Paine congratulated them on not being prisoners of previous plans and said he personally felt it was the right thing to do. Phillips then said the plan did not represent shortcuts and planned to meet with Mueller on August 22. He reiterated Mueller's reservations, and then agreed to move out on a limited basis, since time was critical.

On August 15 Phillips and Paine discussed the plan with Webb. Webb wanted to think about it, and requested further information by diplomatic carrier. That same day Phillips called Low and informed him that Mueller had agreed to the plan with the provisions that no full announcement would be made until after the Apollo 7 flight; that it could be announced that 503 would be manned and possible missions were being studied; and that an internal document could be prepared for a planned lunar orbit for December.

Phillips and Hage visited MSC August 17, bringing the news that Webb had given clear-cut authority to prepare for a December 6 launch, but that they could not proceed with clearance for lunar orbit until after the Apollo 7 flight, which would be an earth-orbital mission with basic objectives of proving the CSM and Saturn V systems. Phillips said that Webb had been "shocked and fairly negative" when he talked to him about the plan on August 15. Subsequently, Paine and Phillips sent Webb a lengthy discourse on why the mission should be changed, and it was felt he would change his mind with a successful Apollo 7 mission.

Apollo 7 - flown October 11-22 - far exceeded Low's expectations in results and left no doubts that they should go for lunar orbit on Apollo 8. At the November 10 Apollo Executive meeting Phillips presented a summary of the activities; James gave the launch vehicle status; Low reported on the spacecraft status and said he was impressed with the way KSC had handled its tight checkout schedule; Slayton reported on the flight plan; and Petrone on checkout readiness. Petrone said KSC could launch as early as December 10 or 12. Phillips said he would recommend to the Management Council the next day for Apollo 8 to go lunar orbit. Following are the reactions of the Committee members:

Walter Burke, McDonnell Douglas - the S-IVB was ready but McDonnell Douglas favored circumlunar rather than lunar orbit;

Hilliard Paige, GE - favored lunar orbit;

Paul Blasingame, AC - guidance and navigation hardware was ready, lunar orbit;

C. Stark Draper, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - we should go ahead;

Bob Evans, IBM - go;

George Bunker of Martin, T. A. Wilson of Boeing, Lee Atwood of North American, Bob Hunter of Philco-Ford, and Tom Morrow of Chrysler - lunar orbit.

At the Manned Space Flight Management Council Meeting on November 11 Mueller reported that the proposal had been discussed with the Apollo Executive Committee, Department of Defense, the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC), and the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC). STAC had made a penetrating review and reacted positively and PSAC was favorably disposed toward the plan but made no firm recommendation.

After a series of meetings, on November 11 Paine said Apollo 8 was to go lunar orbit. The decision was announced publicly the following day. Low's initiative had paid off; the final decision to go to the moon in 1968 was made with the blessings of all of NASA's decision-makers, the Apollo Executive Committee, STAC, and PSAC.

ASPO Manager George M. Low, "Special Notes for August 9, 1968, and Subsequent."

August 10

Capping off a considerable exchange of views between MSC and NASA Headquarters, ASPO Manager George Low advised Apollo Program Director Sam Phillips that Houston was going ahead with mission planning that employed a two-burn orbit insertion maneuver. He forwarded to Phillips a lengthy memorandum from one of his staff, Howard W. Tindall, Jr., that explained in detail MSC's rationale for this two-stage orbital maneuver, the most important of which derived from crew safety and simplified orbital mission procedures. The overriding factor, Tindall explained, was a "concern for the consequences of the many things we will not have thought about but will encounter on the first lunar flight. Anything that can be done to keep the dispersions small and the procedures simple provides that much more tolerance for the unexpected. . . . The cost of the two-stage LOI is a small price to pay for these intangible but important benefits."

Ltr., George M. Low to Samuel C. Phillips, Aug. 10, 1968, with encl., memo, Tindall to ASPO Manager, "Recommendation to retain the Two-Stage Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) Maneuver," Aug. 5, 1968.

August 12

Dieter Grau, Director of Quality and Reliability Assurance at MSFC, sent his Houston counterpart Martin Raines a memorandum of understanding covering exchanges of quality surveillance responsibility in support of pogo structural testing under way both in Huntsville, Ala., and at MSC. Testing was being conducted simultaneously at the Wyle Laboratories in Huntsville (under contract to North American Rockwell, primarily static loading and referred to as shell stability tests); and dynamic load testing at MSC (called the "short stack" dynamic tests). In effect, each Center assumed the task of overseeing the complete test article (spacecraft, instrument unit, and S-IVB forward skirt) being tested at its own location.

Ltr., Grau to Raines, Aug. 12, 1968, with encl., memorandum of agreement, "Quality Coverage of POGO Structural Testing," Aug. 12, 1968.

August 13

George M. Low, MSC, in a letter to Samuel C. Phillips, OMSF, said that the Design Certification Review (DCR) for spacecraft 101 had been completed; that assigned action items had been resolved; and most of the open items had been closed. Several open issues would be closed at the 101 Flight Readiness Review. Low said: "The MSC subsystem managers have reviewed all the documentation supporting the DCR. I have reviewed the statements of certification by the North American and MSC subsystem managers. I have personally watched the design of Spacecraft 101 develop to a stage of maturity. As a result, I am taking this opportunity to certify that Spacecraft 101 is ready to perform the Apollo 7 mission once the open items are closed."

Ltr., Low to Phillips, "Design Certification of Apollo 7," Aug. 13, 1968.

August 16

NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller reported to his superiors that launch preparations for the Apollo 7 mission were running ahead of schedule. Spacecraft 101 had been erected and mated with the launch vehicle on August 9. Integrated systems testing had begun on August 15. Preparation for the next mission, Apollo 8, were not proceeding as well. Checkout of the launch vehicle and CSM 103 were on schedule, but work on LM-3 was some seven days behind schedule. Though LM-3's problems were under intensive investigation, they were directly holding up the simulated mission run and transfer to the altitude test chamber.

Memo, Mueller to Administrator, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - August 16, 1968."

August 17

ASPO Manager George M. Low wrote Program Director Samuel C. Phillips seeking to halt further development of a pogo sensor for the CSM. (MSC had undertaken development of the device shortly after the Apollo 6 flight as "insurance" should the sensor prove necessary.) No requirement for a pogo sensor had been identified, said Low. In fact, it was by no means certain how the sensor could be used in flight. Because MSFC was highly confident that the pogo problem encountered on Apollo 6 had been solved, and because no abort criteria could be based on pogo alone, Low argued against the sensor. Even in the unlikely event that pogo occurred on the next Saturn V flight, he argued against an abort unless there was a catastrophic effect on the launch vehicle, in which case abort would be effected using normal abort criteria. For these reasons, no pogo sensor was to be installed on the CSM. A week later, Phillips approved Low's recommendation to halt the pogo sensor development.

Ltrs., Low to Phillips, Aug. 17, 1968; Phillips to Low, Aug. 24, 1968.

August 19

In a Mission Preparation Directive sent to the three manned space flight Centers, NASA Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips stated that the following changes would be effected in planning and preparation for Apollo flights:

Apollo-Saturn 503
Apollo-Saturn 504
Saturn V 504, CSM 104, and LM-3 were assigned to the D mission, scheduled for launch readiness no earlier than February 20, 1969. The crew assigned to the D mission would remain assigned to that mission. The crew assigned to the E mission (Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr., and William Anders) would be reassigned to the C prime mission. Training and equipping the C prime crews and operational preparations would proceed as required to meet mission requirements and to meet the newly established flight readiness date.
A memorandum from the ASPO Manager on September 3 summarized the basic and alternate missions for which detailed planning and preparation would be performed. In the basic earth-orbital C prime mission the vehicle configuration would consist of the Saturn V 503 with a payload of 39,780 kilograms (CSM 103 and LTA-B with the service propulsion subsystem fully loaded). Insertion would be into low circular orbit of the earth. The earth-parking-orbit activities would include crew and ground support exercises related to spacecraft system checkout and preparation for translunar injection (TLI; i.e., transfer into a trajectory toward the moon). CSM separation maneuver would occur before TLI.

Alternate earth-orbital missions would include a manned TLI burn to a 6440-km apogee or an SPS burn to achieve a 6,440-km apogee. An alternate lunar orbit mission would include mission planning, crew training, spacecraft hardware, and software to support the mission. In providing support, top priority would be assigned to the lunar orbit mission. The memo indicated that following TLI, simulated transposition and docking maneuvers would be conducted; midcourse corrections and star horizon/ star landmark sightings would be performed during the translunar coast; lunar orbit insertion would be accomplished and a lunar parking orbit established for 20 hours.

On September 13, MSC Director of Flight Operations Christopher C. Kraft affirmed that the impact of supporting the described mission plan had been assessed and no constraints were seen to prevent meeting the launch readiness date. He added that the lunar parking orbit would be established during the course of two elliptic orbits and would be of 16 hours duration, thus giving a total lunar vicinity time of 20 hours.

Ltr., Phillips to Directors, KSC, MSFC, and MSC, "Apollo Mission Preparation Directive," Aug. 19, 1968; memos, Manager, ASPO, to distr., "C Prime Mission," Sept. 3, 1968; MSC Director of Flight Operations to Manager, ASPO, "C Prime Mission," Sept. 13, 1968.

August 26

ASPO Manager George M. Low asked Joseph N. Kotanchik, head of the Structures and Mechanics Division, to verify that all spacecraft load analyses and safety factors were compatible with the recently agreed-on payload weight of 39,780 kilograms for the AS-503 mission. Low passed along the concern voiced by Lee B. James, Saturn V Program Manager at MSFC, that the problem of an S-IC engine failure in the Saturn launch vehicle might be more severe for the 503 mission than for a heavier payload. Had adequate stress analysis been done on the high-gain antenna attachments and its support inside the adapter? When would pogo dynamic analysis of the actual 503 payload be completed? And finally, what was the situation regarding loads on LTA-B, the LM test article to be substituted in place of an actual lunar lander aboard the flight?

Memo, Low to Kotanchik,"AS-503 Loads," Aug. 26, 1968.

August 27

George M. Low, ASPO Manager, set forth the rationale for using LTA-B (as opposed to some other LM test article or even a full-blown LM) as payload ballast on the AS-503 mission. That decision had been a joint one by Headquarters, MSFC, and MSC. Perhaps the chief reason for the decision was Marshall's position that the Saturn V's control system was extremely sensitive to payload weight. Numerous tests had been made for payloads of around 38,555 kilograms but none for those in the 29,435- to 31,750-kilogram range. MSFC had therefore asked that the minimum payload for AS-503 be set at 38,555 kilograms. Because LTA-B brought the total payload weight to 39,780 kilograms, that vehicle had been selected for the Apollo 8 mission. All dynamic analyses in connection with the pogo problem had to be verified, but MSFC engineers were not concerned that the established weight would affect pogo performance. Because NASA had been prepared to fly AS-503 with a heavier payload - i.e., originally including LM-3 - Low saw "no reason to be concerned about the decision made to fly the somewhat lighter and more symmetrical LTA-B."

Memo, Low to Joseph N. Kotanchik, MSC, "Use of LTA-B for AS-503," Aug. 27, 1968.

August 28

NASA asked Grumman to make a detailed study of LM-4 to determine any constraints that might prevent accomplishment of a lunar orbit mission. All such constraints were to be defined in sufficient detail to facilitate a NASA review, and NASA expected Grumman-recommended action in each case. The information was requested before the LM-4 Customer Acceptance Readiness Review. Grumman was further asked to study LM-5 to determine constraints that might prevent accomplishment of the lunar landing mission. Again, all constraints were to include recommended action.

Ltr., Frank X. Battersby, RASPO, to Joseph Gavin, LM Program Director, Grumman, Aug. 28, 1968.

August 30

Eberhard Rees, Director of the Apollo Special Task Team at North American Rockwell, notified the contractor that facilities the team had used at Downey, Calif., were relinquished to the company. Thus ended the mission of the group formed some nine months earlier to oversee the contractor's preparations during the period of adjustment following the Apollo 1 accident.

Ltr., Rees to C. F. Wetter, Aug. 30, 1968.

September 3

Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips notified the three manned space flight Centers that the Apollo 8 launch readiness working-schedule date had been changed to December 13, 1968.

TWX, Phillips to MSC, KSC, MSFC, "Apollo 8 (AS-503) Launch Readiness Working Schedule," Sept. 3, 1968.

September 6

In response to a letter from Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips concerning proposed revisions of the first lunar landing mission plan, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth presented MSC's position on the three major topics:

  1. deletion of the lunar geology investigation (LGI) and the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP),
  2. television coverage, and
  3. extravehicular excursion.
Concerning the first item, Gilruth said, "Our lunar surface exploration and scientific activities should be progressive as we extend our knowledge and obtain a better understanding of operational limitations and capabilities in a 1/6g environment. . . . By embarking on too ambitious an effort on our first mission, we may well jeopardize our capability to accomplish manned . . . activities on subsequent flights. . . ." It was "recommended that the LGI (with the exception of the contingency sample and preliminary sample portion) and the ALSEP be deleted from the first lunar landing mission."

With reference to television coverage, Gilruth cited Houston's position that "it would be extremely desirable to provide adequate television coverage during the extravehicular excursion. Coverage can be obtained through the LM steerable antenna and the Goldstone 210-foot [64-meter] antenna while in view of Goldstone." MSC proposed to provide "the capability to transmit the television signal directly through the high gain antenna; but we would also like to maintain the capability to carry the erectable antenna, in the event that it will not be feasible to adjust the timeline to provide Goldstone coverage for all planned extravehicular activities. . . ."

On the subject of extravehicular excursion, he said, ". . . we strongly believe that, on the first lunar landing mission, only a single extravehicular activity should be carried out. You have stated that the simplest and safest excursion should be conducted by one man alone. However, it is clear that we have to maintain the basic capability for a two-man excursion so that the second man can assist the first in the event of trouble or difficulties. Also, further studies and simulations in this area might identify new reasons why a planned two-man excursion is more desirable than a one-man excursion. . . ."

Gilruth said that MSC officials Charles A. Berry, Maxime A. Faget, Christopher C. Kraft, Jr., George M. Low, and Donald K. Slayton were in full accord with all of these recommendations. He added, however, that Wilmot N. Hess felt that "these changes represent a serious compromise to the scientific program." Hess felt that the EVA period should be open ended and that it would be worthwhile to carry ALSEP and attempt its deployment. Hess also recommended that if a decision were made not to carry ALSEP, some easily deployed contingency experiments might be added, such as: Solar Wind Composition experiment, High-Z Cosmic Ray experiment, and a simplified Corner Reflector for Laser Ranging experiment.

Gilruth said that he himself believed, "that it is essential that EVA on the first lunar landing mission be limited to a single excursion and that ALSEP and LGI be eliminated as experiments from that flight. . . . I believe that the maximum scientific gains on this and future missions will be achieved if we limit our objectives as proposed. . . . I am sure that all will agree that if we successfully land on the moon and return to earth, bring back samples of lunar soil, transmit television directly from the moon, and return with detailed photographic coverage, our achievement will have been tremendous by both scientific and technological standards."

Ltr., Gilruth to Phillips, "Proposed revisions to the first lunar landing mission plan," Sept. 6, 1968.

September 10

ASPO Manager George M. Low advised Headquarters of the status of MSC's work on action items assigned as a result of the Apollo Crew Safety Review Board presentation on June 17. Among those items were:

  1. Switching procedures for the emergency detection system - the crew would manually disable the automatic abort device at 1 minute 40 seconds after liftoff.
  2. High-altitude abort procedures - these procedures were being reevaluated by the CSM 101 crew on the spacecraft simulator; following completion (scheduled for September 23), a decision would be made whether to retain the procedure for optional tower jettison.
  3. Rescue of an incapacitated crew - emergency access procedures were being demonstrated at Downey using CSM 008. Any procedural revisions required would be made accordingly.
Completion of these actions, said Low, fulfilled the recommendations of the Crew Safety Review Board.

Ltr., Low to Samuel C. Phillips, "Actions from Apollo Crew Safety Review Board and Presentation," Sept. 10, 1968.

September 10-11

The Apollo Crew Safety Review Board, headed by William C. Schneider, met for the third time at MSFC, a meeting devoted primarily to safety factors for the Saturn V launch vehicle. Of particular concern was the capability to shut down the vehicle during the period between ignition and liftoff should some problem arise (it could be shut down by several methods, including both manual and automatic engine shutdown). The Board also reviewed in detail Saturn V modifications that had eliminated more than 50 engine and electrical circuitry potential single-point failures (primarily through increased redundancy and circuitry checkout). Similarly the Board examined the reliability of guidance failure indicators and checkout of the emergency detection system during the final portion of the countdown. No additional action was needed, members concluded, because all functions in the launch vehicle were checked during the terminal count and tank pressure gauges were checked out by disconnecting the transducers and testing them individually several days before launch.

At the end of the meeting, Board members attended the POGO Management Review, where they were favorably impressed by the optimism among Saturn V program officials that the pogo problem had been solved (although contingency planning for a pogo occurrence should continue through AS-503).

Ltr., Schneider to distr., "Minutes of Third Meeting on September 10-11, 1968, at Marshall Space Flight Center," Sept. 16, 1968.

September 11

At a meeting of the MSF Management Council, Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips put forth a number of recommendations regarding planning for extravehicular and scientific activities during the first lunar landing missions:

The Management Council approved Phillips' recommendations and carried them to Administrator James E. Webb for final approval. In Houston, ASPO Manager George M. Low ordered his organization to begin planning for the first landing mission in accordance with these recommendations.

Memo, Low to O. E. Maynard, "G Mission Planning," Sept. 13, 1968.

September 12

Dale D. Myers, North American Rockwell's Apollo CSM Program Manager, wrote George M. Low: "With the recent shipment of CSM 101 to KSC and preparations for the first manned Apollo flight, attention is centered on the various aspects of crew safety. In this regard, I recently instructed our system safety people to review the action items that resulted from the S/C 012 fire [January 27, 1967], identify those with safety content or implications, determine what corrective action had been accomplished, and assess the adequacy of the closeout actions." Myers went on to say that out of a total of 137 North American action items, 70 were related to safety; and combining similar and identical items resulted in identification of 41 specific safety-oriented action items. An exhaustive study by safety personnel had indicated that all items had been closed out and that corrective actions were adequate.

Ltr., Myers to Low, ASPO, MSC, Sept. 12, 1968.

September 16

Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips formally notified ASPO Manager George M. Low at MSC and Saturn V Program Manager Lee B. James at MSFC of changes in the Apollo Program Specification. As agreed on during the MSF Management Council meeting on August 6, the Apollo payload interface was set at 46,040 kilograms (with a flight geometry reserve of 137 kilometers per hour). Also, the present spacecraft loading philosophy allowed a total spacecraft weight of 46,266 kilograms for lunar missions having less than maximum flight geometry requirements. Phillips repeated his earlier statement that he was prepared to relax some flight constraints to achieve the best possible balance on each space vehicle. (Although with recent changes in Saturn V loading, residuals, and J-2 engine thrust, apparently few if any of these constraints would have to be relaxed.)

Ltr., Phillips to James and Low, "Apollo Program Specification Changes," Sept. 16, 1968.

September 17

Ernest B. Nathan, MSFC Cochairman of the Saturn-Apollo Flight Evaluation Panel, sent to MSC Marshall's requirements for the flight crew debriefing for the AS-205 mission. Generally, these requirements called for the crew's visual and sensory evaluation of the launch vehicle's performance and behavior.

Ltr., Nathan to Helmut A. Kuehnel, MSC, Sept. 17, 1968, with encl., "MSFC Flight Crew Debriefing Requirements, AS-205/SC-101 Mission."

September 18

Dale D. Myers, Apollo CSM Program Manager at North American Rockwell, wrote to CSM Manager Kenneth S. Kleinknecht at MSC to apprise him of the company's response to an earlier review of the CSM subsystems development program. During February a small task team from MSFC, headed by William A. Mrazek, had surveyed the design, manufacture, and checkout of several of the spacecraft's subsystems. Findings of the team had been reviewed with Eberhard F. M. Rees, then at Downey as head of the Apollo Special Task Team. Myers sent Kleinknecht briefing notes of a presentation to Rees and others of the special team describing North American's responses to specific issues raised by Mrazek's group. These issues, Myers reported, had been resolved to the satisfaction of both contractor and customer.

Ltr., Myers to Kleinknecht, Sept. 18, 1968.

September 18

ASPO officials headed by Manager George M. Low met with spacecraft managers from North American Rockwell and Grumman to discuss configuration management for the remainder of the Apollo program and to set forth clear ground rules regarding kinds of changes (described as Class I and Class II) and the requisite level of authority for such changes. The outcome of this meeting, as Low told Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips, was that MSC would pass judgment on all Class I changes and that "nearly every change [would] fall in this category." Minor design changes might still be approved at the contractor or subcontractor levels, said Low, but MSC would judge whether those changes were indeed Class II changes. The overall result of this policy, he told Phillips, would be a better awareness by NASA of all changes made by spacecraft subcontractors and a firm understanding that only NASA could approve Class I design modifications.

Ltr., Low to Phillips, Sept. 19, 1968.

September 23

The Apollo Guidance Software Task Force, which NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller had convened in December 1967, submitted its final report. Purpose of the task force, as Mueller had stated at the time, was to determine whether "additional actions . . . could be taken to improve the software development and verification process and control of it." Between December and July 1968, the group met 14 times at NASA and contractor locations to review the historical evolution of software programs within the Apollo project. Because of the great complexity of this entire field, the task force members recommended that it continue to receive attention by top management levels at both MSC and MSFC. And drawing upon experience learned in the Apollo program, the task force recommended that software not be slighted during any advanced manned programs and that adequate resources and experienced personnel be assigned early in the program to this vital and easily underestimated area.

Ltr., Mueller to Harold T. Luskin, Apollo Applications Program Director, NASA, Sept. 23, 1968, with encl., "Final Report: Apollo Guidance Software Task Force," Sept. 23, 1968.

September 24

Samuel C. Phillips announced membership of the OMSF Apollo Site Selection Board, which was to meet September 26: Phillips, chairman; Lee R. Scherer, OMSF, secretary; John D. Stevenson and Harold D. Luskin, both of OMSF; Oran W. Nicks, NASA Hq., John D. Hodge, Owen E. Maynard, and Wilmot N. Hess, all of MSC; Ernst Stuhlinger, MSFC: and Roderick O. Middleton, KSC. J. H. Turnock and Charles W. Mathews had been deleted from the previous membership list and Hodge, Luskin, and Scherer added.

Memo, Apollo Program Director to distr., "Membership of the OMSF Apollo Site Selection Board," Sept. 24, 1968.

September 24

Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips wrote to his two principal counterparts at MSFC and MSC, Lee B. James and George M. Low, to express his concern that the launch-release wind constraint for the Saturn IB, currently 45 kilometers, was perhaps the most restrictive of all such constraints. Phillips emphasized his need for a complete understanding of all tradeoffs associated with this figure, to allow a real-time estimate of the requirement to hold. He asked James and Low to summarize for him several such tradeoffs before the Apollo 7 flight readiness review: wind versus safety, velocity versus direction, and conservative assumption versus technical accuracy. Also, he asked for criticality and failure mode for each of the above tradeoffs to allow a technical evaluation of increasing the 45-kilometer constraint. At the same time, he asked that a similar effort be initiated for the Saturn V.

TWX, Phillips to Low and James, "Apollo Saturn Release Wind Constraints," Sept. 24, 1968.

September 25

NASA Resident ASPO Manager Wilbur H. Gray at Downey told Dale D. Myers, North American Rockwell CSM Manager, that NR quality coverage of spacecraft testing no longer provided NASA with confidence in test results and that NASA Quality Control would return to monitoring test activities in and from the ACE (acceptance checkout equipment) control room. Gray charged that North American had progressively backed away from contractually agreed steps of the November 30, 1967, Quality Program Plan, and that these actions had affected test readiness, testing, and trouble shooting to the point that test acceptance could not be accepted with any reasonable assurance. Gray said that - unless North American responded by immediate reinstatement of the procedures which, as a minimum, were those that worked satisfactorily on CSMs 103 and 104 - NASA formal acceptance of operational checkout procedures would be discontinued and contractual action initiated. An annotation to George Low from Kenneth S. Kleinknecht, MSC's CSM Manager, indicated the letter had been written with the concurrence and at the suggestion of Kleinknecht.

Myers replied: "I regret that NASA feels any lack of confidence in current test results. . . . For the past year, there has been a constant improvement program carried out in Test Quality Assurance to (1) perform quality evaluation and acceptance of test results in real time and (2) upgrade the test discipline to be consistent with good quality practice. I believe that this improvement program has been effective and is evidenced by the current efficiency of test and expedient manner in which test paper work is being closed out. While there is naturally some cost benefit experienced from the successful improvements, cost never has been placed as a criteria above quality. . . .

"Again, I want to emphasize that the CSM Program has not nor will not intentionally place cost ahead of quality. . . . The procedures which worked satisfactorily on CSM 103 and 104 are being improved to provide better test discipline and more effective Quality Assurance coverage. Test progress on CSM 106 to date indicates a greater test effectiveness and a greater confidence in test results than any previous CSM's."

Ltr., Gray to Myers, Sept. 25, 1968; annotation, Kleinknecht to Low, Sept. 26, 1968; ltr., Myers to Gray, Oct. 17, 1968.

September 25

The LM ascent engine to be flown in LM-3 and subsequent missions would incorporate the Rocketdyne injector, Apollo Program Director Phillips informed ASPO Manager Low. The engine would be assembled and delivered by Rocketdyne under subcontract to Grumman. MSC was authorized to inform those concerned of these decisions but would not issue contractual direction until an agreed course of contractual action had been approved by NASA Hq. Two days later, on September 27, Phillips advised Low that MSC was authorized to take all proper contract actions to implement the decision to contract with Grumman for ascent-stage engines assembled by Rocketdyne with the latter's injector.

TWXs, NASA Headquarters to MSC, Attn: George Low, "LM Ascent Engine Program Decision," Sept. 25, 1968; and "LM Ascent Engine Program," Sept. 27, 1968.

September 26

MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth sent Eberhard F. M. Rees, MSFC Deputy Director, his "personal commendation" and appreciation for Rees's leadership of the Apollo Special Task Team and its efforts to bring the CSM program out of the difficult period early in 1967. The work of Rees and his group, said Gilruth, had made an outstanding contribution to the Apollo program and had given NASA management "a significantly higher level of technical confidence" that the Block II spacecraft could safely perform its mission. In addition, Gilruth noted, Rees's "diplomacy in interfacing with North American management also created a much better NASA-contractor relationship and mutual understanding of program technical requirements."

Ltr., Gilruth to Rees, Sept. 26, 1968.

Week Ending September 27

The Allison descent-stage propellant tank, being redesigned at Airite Division of Sargent Industries to a "lidless" configuration, blew up during qualification test at Airite. The crew noticed loss of pressure and therefore tightened fittings and repressurized. As the pressure went up, the tank blew into several pieces. Grumman dispatched a team to Airite to determine the cause and the necessary corrective action.

Memo, Frank X. Battersby, RASPO, Bethpage, to Chief, Apollo Procurement Br., Procurement and Contracts Div., MSC, "Weekly Activities Report, BMR, Bethpage, Week Ending September 27," Oct. 3, 1968.

September 28

Results of a joint MSFC-MSC review of functional interfaces between the launch vehicle and spacecraft for Apollo 7 were forwarded to NASA Hq. (The review had originally been requested by the Apollo 7 Crew Safety Review Board, headed by John D. Hodge.) The two Centers had tackled the task by identifying all electrical wiring between payload and booster, the requirement for each wire, a verification that the circuits indeed satisfied requirements, and an evaluation of the adequacy of test and checkout procedures. Several months of investigation, reported Teir and Low, had uncovered no areas of concern. Definition and function of the CSM instrument unit were both accurate and valid and ensured flight readiness.

Ltr., Saturn IB Manager William Teir, MSFC, and ASPO Manager George M. Low, MSC, to Samuel C. Phillips, NASA Hq., "Apollo 7 Launch Vehicle to Spacecraft Functional Interface Review," Sept. 28, 1968, with encl.,"AS-205 Launch Vehicle/Spacecraft (LV/SC) Electrical Interface Review."

September 30

NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight George E. Mueller summarized for his superiors launch preparation for the near-term missions Apollo 7 and Apollo 8:

Memo, Mueller to Administrator and Deputy Administrator, "Manned Space Flight Weekly Report - September 30, 1968," Sept. 30, 1968.

September 30

Apollo Program Director Samuel C. Phillips asked ASPO Manager George M. Low to investigate the feasibility of using data from the D and G missions to increase NASA's knowledge of and confidence in the operational capabilities of the extravehicular mobility unit (EMU). Phillips included in his request specific recommendations for additional instrumentation to obtain the necessary data. His action stemmed from a general concern about the extent and complexity of surface operations on the first lunar landing flight (which might substantially reduce chances for successful completion). For this reason, he and other program officials had stringently limited the number of objectives and the extent of those surface activities. But to plan confidently for surface EVA during follow-on Apollo landing missions, Phillips said, as much information as possible had to be gathered about the operational capability of the crew and the EMU.

Ltr., Phillips to Low, "Data for an EVA Capability Assessment," Sept. 30, 1968.

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